Monday, May 5, 2014

The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs

cover of The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs is the third book in the Lewis Barnavelt trilogy. At least, the three books were considered a trilogy at first. At any rate, they are the three books in The Best of John Bellairs compilation. Although this is book is part of the Lewis Barnavelt series, the book features Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmermann. Lewis is off at Boy Scout Camp for the summer. He wants to be able to play more sports with Rose Rita and not be such a loser. Rose Rita, in the meantime, is having teenage woes. Rose Rita is 13, and she's starting to realize that things are going to change in life. At least, her mom is constantly reminding her of it. With the teenage years comes going to dances, dressing up, and being interested in boys. The way Rose Rita's mom talks, Lewis will become Rose Rita's boyfriend. The problem? Rose Rita really doesn't want things to change. She wants everything to stay as it is. She just wants to be friends with Lewis, and she doesn't want to go to dances and be all girly. Well, Mrs. Zimmermann takes pity on Rose Rita, and she invites Rose Rita on a trip to Mrs. Zimmermann's uncle's farm. Mrs. Zimmermann had received a letter from her uncle talking about a magic ring he found, and in the letter, the uncle says that he's probably going to die soon due to an illness he has. Well, the uncle, Oley, has died. Mrs. Zimmermann plans on going to the farm to settle things, then taking a road trip. Mrs. Zimmermann invites Rose Rita to join her. On the way to the farm, Mrs. Zimmermann's car ran out of gas, and she and Rose Rita walk to the grocery store near the farm to get gas. Well, the store is run by a Mrs. Gert Biggers, an ugly, old woman who hates Mrs. Zimmermann because Mrs. Biggers blames Mrs. Zimmermann for stealing Mrs. Biggers' boyfriend when they were young adults.

At the farm, there is no magic ring, but there are signs that the house was broken into and searched. Mrs. Zimmermann and Rose Rita continue on their road trip, but things start going horribly wrong. Mrs. Zimmermann lost her magical wand in The Figure in the Shadows, and now she seems to be a victim of black magic. Mrs. Zimmermann almost dies of mysterious stomach pains, and Rose Rita crashed the car, Bessie, while trying to drive Mrs. Zimmermann to a doctor. Mrs. Zimmermann and Rose Rita return to the farm after Mrs. Zimmermann starts to realize that someone is trying to use black magic against her. Back at the farm, Mrs. Zimmermann mysteriously vanishes, and it's up to Rose Rita to solve the mystery of Mrs. Zimmermann's disappearance. Will Rose Rita save Mrs. Zimmermann?

I could feel a strong connection to Rose Rita. Growing up is a hard thing to do, especially when you realize that the growing up might involve some major changes on your part. It's even harder when those changes are really not wanted, such as Rose Rita wanting to continue to be a tomboy instead of a girly girl. The situation became quite tense, and there were some especially harrowing moments towards the end of the book. Will Rose Rita change, and will she be happy with the change? Who knows? As Mrs. Zimmermann says Rose Rita will just have to wait and see how her life turns out. That's all any of us can do.

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